Visit Isle of Wight make surprise announcements at launch

Plans from the new Destination Management Organisation are revealed to invited guests at Osborne House.

There were some surprise announcements at today’s launch of the Destination Management Organisation’s (DMO) operational plan.

Chief Executive of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, David Thornton, has only been in the job for around four weeks, but today revealed his plans for boosting and sustaining the tourism industry on the Isle of Wight.

Welcomed new partners
David has been visiting the Island since 1968, so is well aware of what the Island has to offer, where tourism campaigns have worked and where they haven’t.

He started his presentation by confirming that as well as the founding partners Red Funnel; Wightlink; Blackgang Chine; Robin Hill; Needles Park; Island View Holidays (Rookley Country Park) and the Isle of Wight council, he could also announce that Hovertravel and English Heritage had joined as partners.

Attract and disperse
David was very keen for the Island to have a number of ambassadors to help sell the proposition, these will include high profile individuals, as well as enthusiastic Islanders, who he hoped would welcome visitors to the Island when the arrived.

Michelin-starred chef, Robert Thompson, from Ventnor’s Hambrough restaurant, had agreed to become one of three media ambassadors, who would work with the DMO on the mainland to promote visiting the Isle of Wight.

Isle of Music
He’ll be joined by Bestival founder and Radio1 DJ, Rob da Bank, who’ll be involved in mainland press briefings, highlighting the important role of music on the Island, or ‘Isle of Music’ as David hoped it would become known.

The number of younger people visiting the Island had fallen recently, so it’s hoped that with Rob da Bank’s involvement, the Isle of Wight as a holiday destination would become more attractive to that sector.

One Website to do all
A few gasps were let out around the room when David revealed that the DMO would be merging the Go Wight and Island Breaks Websites.

Explaining that it would become the “best of both and more”, the new site, which he ‘hoped’ would be fully integrated by Valentine’s Day 2013, would be tailored to the different markets looking to visit the Island.

No longer would a potential visitor have to wait two days to hear back from an accommodation enquiry, through the new Website, you’d be able to book immediately, he said.

Inspirational surroundings
David appeared very excited to end the (apparent) speculation of where the DMO’s office would be based on the Island.

You certainly can’t blame him for having a smile on his face as he revealed their offices would be on a private piece of land on the Osborne Estate, with a clear view of their marketing target, the mainland.

We imagine it’s going to be far more inspirational than being stuck on an industrial estate in the middle of Newport.

Widen the peaks and build up the troughs
It was good to hear that the Isle of Wight is in the top five ranked destinations in England, as far as customer satisfaction was concerned.

The Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales sit either side of the Island in the rankings. They both experience more rain than the Island, so the DMO plans to take note and build an all-year-round proposition for visitors to the Island.

The DMO would be working with the ferry companies to look at where the trends of empty ferries were and market the Island during those periods.

David hopes that with an “interwoven orchestration of marketing” the Island will become more than just a summer destination.

Working on the niches
David went on to say that the Island would be marketed not only to potential holiday-makers, but also to those in the film and TV industry as a location for shoots.

Although David revealed many broad ideas of how the DMO would work over the coming year, he kept his powder dry on the 2013 tourism strapline. We’ll have to wait until the New Year for that.

345 pledge
He finished by making what he called the ‘345 pledge’.

  • Increase the number of visitors to the Island by 300,000
  • £4m impact to be achieved annually
  • All within five years

Praise for council funding
James Berresford, CEO of Visit England also gave a presentation on the state of the tourism industry in England.

He shared Visit England’s mission and how this would fit with the aims of the DMO and praised the Isle of Wight council for ring-fencing £3m over nine years for the DMO.

Thursday, 15th November, 2012 5:21pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Tourism

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26 Comments on "Visit Isle of Wight make surprise announcements at launch"

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Island Monkey

Let’s hope the succeed. The Island desperately needs a better tourism plan.

Can’t see anyone from the council in the picture? Maybe Pugh & Beynon were too busy handling bookings for the Riverside Centre?

Janet Scott

Try second row up, far left, Pugh.


Crikey, if women are as sparsely represented amongst movers & shakers of the Island tourism industry as the photo suggests, maybe it’s suddenly clear why we’re not attracting families as much as we’d like…… 50 shades of grey (suits) invite you to the Isle of wight!

random bloke

all seems very positive. what a shame some people only seem interested in the negatives and where David Pugh was.

The plan seems like a good one. lets hope all parties can give and take enough to ensure success.


Yes Jon, after all, DP is only ….hang on, he’s the Leader of the Council! I’m beginning to think the name Eeyore would better attach to some of your postings, Jon, which can be rather sweet. Along with Winnie The Pugh…..

random bloke
hes the leader of the council. so what? this is a story about tourism and how to improve it. Pugh was involved, as is made clear in the photo. again, so what? Why are so many people in the photo men? because they are. Rather than approaching the story wondering where Pugh is and why so many people in the photo are men, I would much rather… Read more »
@Jon: You do have a narrow field of vision…don’t you? People are concerned about all manner of intertwining issues. One is, what does the Leader of the Council get up to for the money he is being paid. Perfectly reasonable concern. Others are concerned at a very serious level of how and why there *appears* to be a glass ceiling on female careers and why, in some… Read more »

Yes,visit the Isle of Wight for a holiday where you will get ripped off as soon as you leave the mainland!

In tight economic times,most people of normal means wont even try,unless they have family on the Island.


Anybody can make a list…but we have nothing new here for people to visit and nobody is going to spend a penny improving that. The ferry price wouldn’t be an issue if there was anything special to see or visit here.

Until some real investors are found to replace the tired ones that have done so little, we will continue to fail.

And the management bullsh** continues: “tourism strapline – ambassadors – inspirational surroundings – interwoven orchestration of marketing” Ye gods!! Then we have Wightlink and Red Funnel as partners in promoting the Island. The very same partners who charge up to £80 each way to get on and off the place! By way of comparison, an acquaintance told me that her son sailed from Britain to Sweden for… Read more »
I think David Thornton should be congratulated. He has invited and got some of the main players concerned for the islands tourist industry together. Yes, there may be a few newspeak phrases, so what? Men or women?; no relevance. He would appear to be throwing himself wholeheartedly into this and trying to involve all the relevant organisations; without their support he will not succeed. They are all… Read more »
Colin, you appear to be quite confident that things will change. As a pensioner, who has seen and heard it all before, when I read phrases like “interwoven orchestration of marketing, alarm bells immediately ring. Along with “vision” and “outcomes” I know from experience that we are dealing with professional speechmakers who use the same speech, whether they be in education, NHS, or any other sphere of… Read more »
Brian, I completely understand your points. As a pensioner-in-waiting, I too have seen it all before and got the t-shirt. However, I do believe that with the importance of tourism to the island economy, this new initiative (oops) needs to succeed this time. Failure will only hasten the islands economic decline given the slow decline of the industrial base. I note that the brief seems to be… Read more »
@Colin: …but Colin, at the risk of repeating myself over and over.. and you address it in your last sentence. The idiotic symbolism (let alone the practical issues) of closing Tourist Offices is completely contrary to the notion of *wanting* tourists to come here. Completely and utterly contrary. And as we all know, none of these cuts and closures are going to be undone anytime soon.. That’s… Read more »

wightywight; I agree. I hope David Thornton has enough clout to get the IW Council to get it’s act together. He’s the man they have appointed to get the visitors here. The destination has to live up to the hype. Let’s see how good he is.


Just a little bit concerned how top Chef Robert Thompson is going to find time to contribute. After all, he has the Hambrough Hotel to run and the Winter Gardens to rebuild! Very busy lad!!


Come on Dave, let’s have some women on the tourism team and consultation process. May I suggest Lisa Traxler, Abigail Fox, Alison-Jane Reid, Julie Jones-Evans, Stephanie Bayer, Catherine Ouston, Tracy Mikich, Debby Robson, Helen Carey, Jo Hummel-Newell, Nicky Hayward etc etc Go on, spice up your life!


Great postings from wightywight & Monty! Who would have guessed that anyone here would have to respond to the phrase “Men or women?; no relevance”.

And thankyou Brian for introducing me to the “interwoven orchestration of marketing”!


Destination Management Organisation – Brilliant, that should frighten off most prospective visitors.

Ian Jenkins
The worrying thing about that photo shot is the level of male participation and suits. I have spent two years working on turning round the fortunes of a major Ryde tourist attraction from closure for both Island residents and locals. I chose specifically new people with no preconceived ideas. I really really hope David doesn’t get the same old faces to help him otherwise the same old… Read more »
@Ian Jenkins: …maybe the “worrying thing” ….etc is that David Thornton doesn’t appear *worried* by the *suits* or the lack of women! Do you think it was all organised for him…? he just turned up to meet and greet..? If you consider he was probably involved in the inviting of all these illustrious faces and tourist professionals yet found it unworrying that hardly any women were invited… Read more »
Ian Jenkins
WW I cant imagine he arranged all this in the short time he has been in office. Maybe you could all let us know David? We need desprately new faces on all aspects of tourism the people are out there and maybe its a good sign with a few faces like RD Bank and R Thompson. I am gravely concerned about the size of the group and… Read more »
I was wondering how Wayne W. always seems to have a tan….. I think it is seriously disadvantageous if it is mainly men who are making decisions on attracting tourists to the Island, as the photo implies. Women have a much better understanding of the huge variety of outlooks & pursuits of other women, as well as understanding what men & boys, & heaven knows, families, enjoy.… Read more »

Apparently at the launch he started his speech by referring to either Shanklin or Sandown as part of ‘mainland Britain’. Whoops.

The council is investing a lot of money and the Island needs this to work, so I wish him (and his team) the best of luck.


It sounds as though he will need it! Thanks for posting that, Geographer.